Last Saturday, I spent the day with Ashley at BlogHer, a conference focused on women and blogging. An interesting conference, especially given that I was one of the relatively few men in the audience – at least Niall Kennedy and Jeff Clavier were there for moral support.
A couple observations from the conference:
- Women can be way more supportive than guys: The opening session featured high spirits, of the “you go, girl!” variety. While Bloggercon was a positive crowd, it was far more subdued in the expression of its spirit than BlogHer.
- Women can be way crueler than men: I was alerted to a previously unknown genre in the blogging world – the mommy blog. Apparently there are mixed feelings towards them, though I’m not really sure why. But I sensed much tension, and overheard a number of snide comments muttered in both directions. Hmm.
- Women are gravely concerned about how their online persona will be interpreted in the real world: During the business blogging session, a number of women voiced their belief that women had to be careful with their personal blogs. The concern? That by putting parts of their personal life online (for example: pictures and stories about their kids), potential employers or clients would they were more concerned about their personal life than their professional life. Sadly, I’d have to agree that it’s probably true.
There was a lot of concern about rankings expressed in the opening sessions – specifically Technorati‘s listing of top 100 popular blogs (Niall took a couple for the team Dave – give ’em a day off!). More interesting was Mary Hodder‘s idea to have the attendees band together to define a less two-dimensional ranking system would allow a reader more easily find blogs they like. Part of me believes this might be an unsolvable problem, as what people really want is a way to have a computer to know what they want – I believe there are limits to how well this can work. On the other hand, I think there are some tools, such as Rojo that make it about as easy as possible to find blogs and posts you might be interested in reading.
The final note I wanted to share with the attendees of BlogHer occurred to me during the “Funding” session dedicated to providing women with information on funding an online business. A lot of the concern in the room was about how to attract the interest of angels (“I’ve got a job, kids; who’s going to fund me? Where are the female-focused angels?”) and I think it really detracted from driving home the point that women have unique skills that will allow them to spot and exploit market opportunities. For one, women control the majority of the consumer spending in North America – and who better to know what women want and sell to that market than female entrepreneurs? For another, women look at things in a completely different way (just ask Guy Kawasaki – he explicitly recommends entrepreneurs ask women for advice when creating new products).
If you build it, they will come!